Foreign students ripped off by landlords over temporary contracts

Foreign students ripped off by landlords over temporary contracts

Companies which specialise in providing housing for students are breaking the law by forcing them to continue to pay for a room if they leave before the end of the contract, tenants' association Woonbond has told Trouw. Students who come to the Netherlands for a couple of months – some 31,000 this year – can get a room straight away but the contract obliges them to pay full wack if they leave before their time is up. Woonbond, supported by student organisations, thinks the situation is unfair on the students and is preparing to take the landlords to court. The law stipulates that temporary contracts can be terminated early, the Woonbond claims, and says landlords are breaking the law. Student housing umbrella group Kences says the short-stay contracts offered students are not ideal but that they have no other option. It argues that housing providers have agreed with universities and colleges that foreign students have a room the moment they arrive. If a student leaves early, the room cannot be rented to someone else because it needs to be available for the next batch of foreign students, Kences says. Rooms not homes The organisation also says the contracts are legitimate because students rooms are not independent homes. The Woonbond and the student organisations have urged Kences to come up with creative solutions to the problem. ‘International students are a vulnerable group in the housing market. They don’t know what is and isn’t allowed,’ a Woonbond spokesperson told the paper. But according to Kences director Ardin Mourik, the situation for foreign students may well get worse if they are allowed to stop paying. ‘Providers will no longer be able to guarantee rooms for foreign students and then where will they live?’ the paper quotes Mourik as saying.  More >

Dutch housing market boom continues

Foreign students ripped off by landlords over temporary contracts House prices in the Netherlands rose 7.4% in April compared with the year earlier period, the biggest increase in 15 years. The figures come from the land registry office and national statistics bureau CBS and show that house prices have been rising steadily since June 2013. Advisory group IG&H says that mortgages are now bigger than ever, despite tougher rules on how much people can borrow to buy their own home. The average mortgage deal signed in the first three months of this year was €281,000, taking the total spent on new mortgages to €23.3bn - the highest volume in 10 years and a 43% rise on the same period in 2016. In total, 83,000 mortgages were agreed between January and March, of which 55% went to people who were moving to a different house. Just 11% of first quarter mortgages went to first-time buyers. The housing market boom has also led to a rise in the number of people wanting to be an estate agent, the CBS said on Monday. There are now some 9,110 real estate agencies in the Netherlands, a rise of 10% since the housing crisis hit. However, there is such a shortage of properties for sale in popular places like Amsterdam and Utrecht that the national real estate agents' association NVM recently warned that some members will go bust.  More >

Person buried under collapsed town hall

Foreign students ripped off by landlords over temporary contracts A construction worker was buried under the town hall in Woerden, the central Netherlands, on Friday morning when the building partially collapsed during renovation work, reports ANP. The fire brigade has been unable to make contact with the victim or enter the building due to risk of collapse, it reports, but rescue attempts are underway. The second floor partly collapsed and it is thought that a builder is buried. People have been working on the building for several months, with the aim of opening a new hall next year.   More >

Mid-sector rental housing squeeze worsens

Foreign students ripped off by landlords over temporary contracts New tenants in the non-rent controlled sector are paying 10% more rent than they would have done a year ago, rental housing platform Pararius said on Tuesday. In particular, small apartments are becoming relatively more expensive and demand for housing just over the rent-controlled threshold of €710 is far outstripping supply. The problem is becoming so acute in Amsterdam that rents in the suburbs and commuter towns such as Zaandam, Haarlem, Amstelveen and Almere are also going up more sharply, Pararius said. In Zaandam, for example, new tenants are paying nearly 25% more than a year ago, while in Hoofddorp rents are up 14%. 'People who earn too much to live in social housing and not enough to get a mortgage are being squeezed,' Pararius director Jasper de Groot said. 'People doing a first-time job, freelancers, people who don't want to buy... there is a large group of people who need a home in the mid-rental category and this group will only grow in the future.' Over four in 10 of the people who checked the Pararius website for a property in the previous three months wanted a home with a rent of  €711 - €1000. However, only 24% of properties on the website met this demand.  More >

Amsterdam centre living for the happy few

Foreign students ripped off by landlords over temporary contracts Buying a house in a Dutch city centre is possible only for those with substantial savings or those with rich parents, according to a report by the Netherlands central bank DNB, quoted by the NRC on Tuesday. People seeking housing in the large cities often need their own capital to buy, the DNB said. This is especially true in Amsterdam where buyers usually put up between €50,000 to €70,000 to buy a house or apartment. Since 2013, more than 25% of buyers paid in cash, without the need for a mortgage, the report said. The tight property market with very few housing units for sale combined with very low interest rates - whereby it does not pay to save - plays a major role, the report says. In addition there is very little in the upper end of the rental market available. In March, property research group Calcasa said the Keizersgracht in Amsterdam has 255 houses worth over €1m, making it the most expensive street in the Netherlands.  More >